Downers Grove South holds off Willowbrook for first WSC Gold title since 2001

Emily Petring wasn't going to let it slip away.

With a conference title within reach, Petring's Downers Grove South girls basketball team saw its game-long lead vanish into a deficit entering the fourth quarter Friday night at Willowbrook.

Petring, though, converted a bucket through contact, missed the free throw, found the loose ball and drilled a 3-pointer with 5:50 remaining to immediately erase the Willowbrook lead. It was the last time the Mustangs trailed in a 46-42 victory that clinched the West Suburban Conference Gold Division title.

The conference title was the first for the Downers Grove South girls basketball program since 2001.

"We just needed to settle down and play as a unit," said Petring, a Coastal Carolina soccer commit. "This is a special group and without a doubt my favorite year [of high school basketball]. We knew [the conference title] was right there for the taking and we knew we needed to finish strong. It took all of us to get it done and I'm happy that we did it."

Petring's five quick points were the start of an 11-0 run, which included the senior guard hitting another 3-pointer as part of her game-high 20 points.

Downers Grove South (17-12, 10-2 West Suburban Conference Gold) seemed to be in full control, ahead by six until the 1:28 mark. Willowbrook's Yazmin Setaram and Elle Bruschuk hit back-to-back 3-pointers to tie the game at 42 with just under a minute to play.

Petring pushed the ball down the court and was fouled and converted both free throws, which proved to be the game-winning points. Downers Grove South also held Willowbrook to just 3-of-15 shooting in the fourth quarter.

"I told the girls that this is going to be a game of roller coaster," Lyndsie Long said. "[Willowbrook] went up to start the fourth quarter and we just had to stay poised. We knew our shots would fall.

"For this group to be the first to win conference since 2001, it's special. This entire group is special. And Emily is just one of a kind athleticism. She just wants it and has that passion and desire that you just can't teach. She has that leadership quality that everyone follows."

The Mustangs focused defensively to try and shut down the Willowbrook standout forward Bruschuk. Despite making just one of her first 13 shots, the 6-foot Bruschuk knocked down two 3-pointers in the second half, the latter of which brought the Warriors level.

Bruschuk finished with 10 points, a game-high 13 rebounds and three blocked shots.

For Willowbrook acting coach Dan Bannon, who has spent this season transitioning into the head coach position with current head coach Terry Harrell retiring, he just felt as though his team ran out of time.

"It was no doubt a game of runs," Bannon said. "I think if that game goes another minute, the outcome could very well be different, but that's not how it works. We're used to [Bruschuk] drawing the extra defender, and just couldn't get it going consistently enough on the offensive end tonight. I thought our defense was outstanding. To hold that team to 46 points with their size and speed is great. But we struggled to score and that hurt us. You have to give credit to [Downers Grove South]."

Freshman Megan Ganschow and junior Allison Jarvis each added 12 points for the Mustangs, while Sara Stout led the way with 14 points for Willowbrook (14-14, 8-3) in the loss.

Downers Grove South will take on Lyons Township in the West Suburban crossover championship game on Wednesday.

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